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In The Face of Oppression and Tyranny

Lee J. Keller
Lee J. Keller Author Interview

The Emergence takes place in a vibrant future where machines, technology, and humans are integrated and a movement is underway to challenge the governments’ control and hierarchy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This story actually began in 1986 for me, where I explored the main ideas in a short story done for a writing class at the University of Washington. Themes about emerging technology and the struggles for identity, authenticity, and freedom were already prevalent in society, as well as the disintegration of social structures such as family, rigid gender roles, and the negative impact of patriarchy at that time. These issues became much more significant as time passed, especially the impact and need for surveillance technologies, and how their misuse was being rationalized by governments all over the world. I needed to explore this more fully in the novelized version of this story, and I wanted to do it while telling a good story.

Your characters were intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The struggle for personal freedom and autonomy versus conformity, the emergence of psychological independence and free-thinking as the juxtaposition between the struggle of free will and determinism was a driving force. Of course, I strongly wanted to show that individual and collective choices can still be made even in the face of oppression and tyranny. For the disempowered, there is always a struggle for assertion of identity and I wanted to show how the power of love can help sustain anyone, even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds to persist and achieve, even what they thought was not possible. Love triumphs and free choices and acceptance can help an individual reinvent themselves if they need to!

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I looked at dialectical thinking and dialogical relating, something which I’m quite familiar with in my long career as a therapist and my training. I see them both as important to psychological development. I also wanted to explore how technology impacts culture and community. Is it both good and bad, can it be used for the good or not? What would an emerging AI consciousness look like? And finally, how has patriarchy enslaved people and cultures? How does encountering and esteeming an existential Other make us more enlightened as persons and cultures? And what changes are possible as people embrace freedom? Lastly, I wanted to show that the inclusion of others, even those much different from ourselves, is a worthwhile pursuit.

This is book one of the Robochurch Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two?

In book two, the movement known as Robochurch continues to develop, but it is not an easy path. There is tremendous conflict between the status quo, government controls, and the promise for independence and freedom which many elites are seeing as a threat. The Robochurch continues to develop and in some cases, warring factions become more polarized in their struggles, and open war breaks out. There are betrayals and allegiances that are discovered and rediscovered. The characters develop further. The robots and AI become even more developed. What will be the outcome? Readers will have to read it to see!

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In 2142, a new movement promises freedom and inclusion to humans and machines. The sweeping persecution of its followers by governments will lead to the unraveling of a worldwide system of surveillance and control. Who is responsible? Is it an AI, terrorist group, or spiritual movement? As the leader of the new movement is about to be revealed, groups of followers, pursuing authorities, and kindred robots converge in one place. When the leader identifies herself as a woman, at a time when human women have already been decimated by two Gender Wars and supplanted by robots—what does it all mean? Will this new movement free humans and machines to think for themselves and defeat an old system that has kept them divided in a legacy of oppression? It will take their deepest strength, a profound love for each other, and deep faith, just to find out.
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